WE Fest 2018
Since WE Fest’s inception in 1983, it has been one of the leading country music festivals in the nation. Twice nominated for the Country Music Association’s prestigious Best Special Event award, WE Fest is widely regarded as one of the most outstanding events of its kind in the nation.
“With all the albums we’ve done, we’ve always taken our own path and not thought about what everyone else is doing,” says Jason Aldean.
With his seventh album, They Don’t Know, Aldean continues to lead the way, advancing the sound and style that helped define today’s country music. With his first release since 2014’s Old Boots, New Dirt—which debuted at Number One on the Billboard album chart—the reigning Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year returns with a crowd-pleasing array of emotions and observations, from sizzling party-starters to hard-earned heartbreak. For Aldean, one key ingredient for the new project was getting back the kind of hard charging tunes that helped make his name. “I’m super-proud of my last couple of records, but I always thought they could use a couple more of those big, up-tempo songs like ‘She’s Country’ or ‘My Kind of Party,’“ he says. “So one goal going in this time was to find some of those big songs—and I think we got ‘em.”One notable discovery was the album’s opener, “Lights Come On,” which showed up at the last possible minute. Just as Aldean and his band were putting the finishing touches on the record, he got an email from his friends Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line, pitching a new song they had co-written. “I immediately went in and told my producer, ‘We gotta get everybody to stay after the session and cut this song,’“ says Aldean. “And three weeks later, radio had it on their desk. ”Programmers paid attention, too, because the single quickly became the singer’s seventeenth No. 1 country hit, and he even took a phrase from the lyric—“Six-String Circus”— as the title for his sold-out summer tour. “You spend a year, year and a half looking for songs for an album, and then all of a sudden, a song just falls into your lap and changes the whole dynamic,” he says. Other tracks on They Don’t Know show a continuing sonic evolution; Aldean points out such details as a guitar lick in “All Out of Beer” that reminds him of a classic Alabama riff, while the arrangement of “A Little More Summertime” calls to mind the wide-open sound of U2. He explains that these unexpected musical twists come from working with the same band, on stage and in the studio, for a full decade now, and having faith to let them explore the material freely.“I’ve always let the guys in my band just have at it in the studio—the more out there, the better,” he says. “Sometimes these things comes from telling them, ‘Whatever you think will not work, play that.’ I think that helps to keep everybody fresh and not get into a rut.”
Jason Aldean’s life has definitely led him to some pretty sweet spots, including last year, when he played his first full-on stadium tour. “There is no other feeling like playing a song and having a whole stadium singing it back to you,” he says. “People say things are like a drug—but that’s really like a drug, you want to feel that feeling every single day. It’s crazy that me playing with my little band in the garage turned into that. Hopefully, it doesn’t end anytime soon."
This touring triumph was recognized in April with Aldean’s first Entertainer of the Year trophy, the Academy of Country Music’s biggest prize. “Eleven years into my career, after years of being nominated and watching your buddies win it, guys that were your opening act, it gets to a point where you think maybe it’s not going to happen,” he says. “So winning was more emotional than anything, a reflection back on eleven years. That being said, after we got it one time, now I want to win it again! I remember coming out our first show back and getting the band together and saying, ‘OK, we got the belt now—let’s go out and show them why we got it.’
Carrie Underwood emerged from the promise of her 2005 American Idol win to become a true multi-format, multi-media superstar, spanning achievements in music, television, and film. A seven-time GRAMMY® Award winner, she has amassed over 100 major honors, sold 64 million records worldwide, and recorded 26 #1 singles, 13 of which she co-wrote, with a catalog of songs that have been streamed more than 2.6 billion times worldwide. The first female artist to be twice named the Academy of Country Music’s Entertainer of the Year, Underwood was recognized by Pollstar as the top female country touring artist for each of her headlining tours in 2008, 2010, 2012, and for 2016’s “The Storyteller Tour - Stories in the Round.”
Carrie also topped Billboard’s Top 25 Tours of 2016 as the leading female country artist and was the leading female artist on Country Aircheck’s top country radio performers list for her success in both 2015 and 2016. All five studio albums, Some Hearts, Carnival Ride, Play On, Blown Away, and Storyteller – are certified Platinum or multi-Platinum, and each anAmerican Music Awards winner as Favorite Country Album – and tallied an incredible 40 weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart. The RIAA’s highest certified country album artist to debut this century, Underwood also holds the distinction of the highest album certification of any country artist to emerge since 2000 with the 8x Multi-Platinum success of her 2005 debut, Some Hearts. She is the all-time Top Country Artist (male or female) on RIAA’s Digital Single Ranking, also placing her among the Top 5 females in the history of RIAA’s Digital Single Program across all genres.
In December of 2014, she released her Platinum-certified Greatest Hits: Decade #1, which produced two new #1 hits co-written by Underwood, including the RIAA-Platinum, GRAMMY-winning “Something in the Water.”
The Grand Ole Opry member demonstrated her creative diversity in 2013 starring as Maria von Trapp in NBC’s three-hour holiday blockbuster, the Emmy®-winning The Sound of Music Live!, whose airings attracted 44 million viewers. The reigning CMA Female Vocalist of the Year, Underwood claimed her fourth win in the category amid the ongoing success of her chart-topping platinum fifth studio album, Storyteller, which produced four #1 hits. In 2017 Underwood will return for the fifth season as the voice of primetime television’s #1 program, Sunday Night Football, and this November, she will co-host the CMA Awards for a tenth consecutive year.